In Over My Head
Everyone knows that I am horrible at saying no. (Except to Little MPB when he attempts to throw himself off some sort of furniture or throw his food across the room. I am actually pretty good at saying and sometimes yelling no in those circumstances.)
But when it comes to work, I always say yes.
But about a month ago I told Mr. MPB I am done accepting new work until 2019. I am simply too busy and the next project might just be the straw that breaks the camels back. He fully supported my decision – as a numbers guy, he literally sees my income and sees how truly busy I am and didn’t even question me desire to not work more then I already am. (Note, I’m not saying work less, because I am so committed that there is no option to work less at this point. The option is just to not work more). In fact, he welcomed my decision.
Then, the very next day, my phone rang. A long time mentor of mine asked me to work on a project. A complex but yet fun project. With a completion date of end of 2018. Which means more work right when I committed to no more work. Pushing into 2019 was not an option. So, clearly, I said yes.
And of course, I reiterated to Mr. MPB that I’m done accepting any more work until 2019. As in, there’s no way I can possibly do anything more. Again, he agreed. This time, he politely informed me that he didn’t think I could actually say no to another job. I rolled my eyes, and said of course I can say no.
Well, that of course foreshadowed the email I got the next week. Another project. Another tight deadline, this one is October 2018. This one is even more exciting then the last one. Mr. MPB and I talked a lot about it, and even he agreed this project was too good to pass up. So, I said yes.
And then, a few weeks later I heard back on a proposal I submitted months ago that I assumed I didn’t get. Well, it turns out, I did get it. And low and behold, the deadline is end of 2018.
All this means that since I determined that I do not have capacity to do any additional work, I’ve taken on 3 additional projects. I am officially 3 projects in over my head.
The life of a consultant means you don’t turn down work. First, you never know when the next work will come in so you need to make money while you can make money. Second, you’ll never get asked to do another project for the same client if you turn them down.
But my life as a mom means that I do everything in my power to not work while Little MPB is home and awake. Which essentially means when I have too much work, I either spend my evenings working after he is in bed, or my mornings working, while the house is still quiet and no-one else is awake. I’m much more productive in the morning, so everyday this week I’ve been up before 5am typing away.
For me (and for many other people too) life-work balance is hard. So I’m thankful everyday that I have the ability to work from home so that I can set my hours around Little MPB’s schedule.
But, clearly I’m not balanced right now, nor am I going to be for the next few months as obviously I have no idea how to actually say no. In fact it’s quiet obvious that all I’ve effectively learned to say no to is my free time and sleep.
I read this line this morning, and I must say, it may just be the most inspirational thing I’ve read in a while:
If you are in a similar situation I urge you to consider lightening your load. Give yourself a goddam break. There is no need to be superwoman. Find the joy and shift as much of the hard stuff as you can…
For some reason, giving our own selves a break seems like that hardest thing to do but honestly, it’s the ace up your sleeve.
Now, please excuse me while I see if I can find a student to hire part-time to help give myself a break.
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I am not a consultant, but my job is similar in the sense that not being busy enough is an awful thing. (Working less doesn’t directly affect my base compensation, since I am on a salary, but there are certain expectations for the amount of work I should handle at a given time, and the amount of billable client work I do in a year *does* directly affect any bonus I receive at year end.) So I have often found myself similarly positioned in saying “yes” to assignments that I probably should have declined and then finding myself overcommitted.
I have been brainstorming how I can work less (without taking a HUGE, unlivable pay cut) since before my sons were born in early 2012. Still haven’t figured it out. I realize intellectually that I am probably shaving years off my life with my constant high stress levels, and yet here I still am.
Good luck getting through this particularly busy season. It’s good to be in demand (though stressful).
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Yikes girl!! Don’t burn yourself out!!
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Awwwwww I love that something I wrote inspired you! Getting a student in sounds like a great idea. I really hope it helps x
Holy cow that sounds like a lot of work! I’m glad you have some new challenging and interesting projects and I wish you the best in completing them!!
Just reading this gives me anxiety!!!!
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